Brylane - A member of the Redcats Home Shopping Division and one of America's specialty catalog leaders with eight
catalogs and eight e-commerce websites. Ranked third in the world for home shopping. In 2002, Brylane mailed over
half a billion catalogs in the United States alone and did nearly 25% of its business online.
Brylane's websites were profitable, but during periods of high-volume shopping traffic - usually generated by marketing
campaigns - orders were being lost and sites were coming down. (A typical marketing campaign for one of the Brylane
sites could entail over two million emails.) All of the sites were running on a common architecture; when one site's
performance was adversely affected by high-volume shopping, the other sites were also affected.
Brylane asked Cordsel to improve their sites' ability to handle high-volume shopping traffic, so that no orders were
lost and site performance was not impaired during peak periods. It was also crucial that Cordsel's work itself
not hamper site performance.
At the start of the engagement, Cordsel began to learn Brylane's business, beginning with a detailed assessment of the
Brylane Architecture on which their eight sites run. Assessment included an analysis of business statistics and web
statistics, from which trends, patterns, and impact were derived. Interviews were also conducted with staff members.
Cordsel's assessment detailed topics such as business objectives, business continuity, software design and implementation,
scalability, stability, technology decisions, extensibility, and performance. Such a fine-toothed assessment led to
recommendations and plans based on a decision point matrix intended to prioritize tasks and define a course of action.
Cordsel implemented their recommendations and plans, and reengineered Brylane's existing architecture, without
disturbing the performance of the live sites. Cordsel's solution was delivered on time, and in budget.
Distributed Microsoft technologies, and custom solutions when commercial software or servers were inappropriate.
Cordsel's solution helped Brylane reach and surpass their projected numbers for the year, compensating for dollars lost
in the first six months. Cordsel's initiatives directly led to a 35% reduction in database and middleware
utilization leading to a doubling of client requests per second, a doubling of client total requests per second, and an
overall 50% reduction in request times for data and content-driven pages. Pages loaded more quickly. The customer
shopping experience was dramatically improved: more orders could be processed and site unavailability was eliminated,
leading to greater customer retention.